San Diego is rich in history and culture, evident in its dramatic architecture, classical Spanish missions and diverse population. Boasting beautiful weather year-round, this Pacific Coast city is ideally situated between the Laguna Mountains and Anza-Borrego Desert. With Mexico a close neighbor to the south, San Diego truly offers a multi-cultural experience.
Faithful Attractions in San Diego
Still an active Roman Catholic parish, Mission San Diego de Alcalá was once burned to the ground by protesting Native Americans. After being re-built, the mission was again severely damaged in an earthquake. Recognized as California’s first church, the mission was founded in 1769 by Spanish Franciscan missionary Father Junípero Serra and lies just east of downtown San Diego. Bearing a pristine white facade, the striking Mission San Diego de Alcalá sits atop a hill just east of downtown and has become an iconic symbol of the turbulent history in California. Guided tours of this National Historic Landmark are available and services are held daily. The nearby Junípero Serra Museum, in Presidio Park, just above the Old Town area, is one of the most familiar landmarks in San Diego, standing atop the hill recognized as the site where California began.
Worth a short day trip outside of San Diego is Mission San Juan Capistrano, located just a short drive up the coast in Orange County. Known as the “Jewel of the Missions,” Mission San Juan was established to spread the Catholic faith to the Native Americans. A special prayer room within the chapel dedicated to Saint Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer sufferers, is open at the scheduled Mass times.
Temple Beth Israel, located in the Heritage Park section of Old Town San Diego, is a beautiful, historic building and the site of San Diego’s first synagogue. The structure reflects the classical revival church styles of the late 1800s. The Heritage Park area is dedicated to preserving Victorian architecture, making for a charming visit.
The Mormon Battalion Historic Site, also in Old Town, has a fascinating military history. It was here where Mormon troops arrived to support the American garrison during the Mexican-American War and the end point of the longest troop march (2,000 miles) in military history. Discover the perils, hardships and joys the marching battalion experienced on its journey west.
Religious Groups take in the Sights in Beautiful San Diego
Balboa Park is San Diego’s cultural heart, with dozens of museums, theaters and performing arts centers. Coined “The Smithsonian of the West,” this beautiful park houses treasures among cultivated gardens and Spanish Colonial architecture, making it a magical place to spend the day. While in the park, groups can stop by the San Diego Historical Society, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Zoo and San Diego Natural History Museum, among other attractions. Sea World San Diego, not far from downtown, offers up-close animal encounters and marine exhibits.
Representing San Diego’s connection with the sea, Embarcadero, a bayfront stretch where cruise vessels dock, houses a floating of museum of historic ships. Visitors can explore the decks of retired military ships, including the famous USS Midway, or go for a ride on an excursion boat.
Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres play in the state-of-the-art Petco Park, designed to enhance the fan experience and showcase views of San Diego and its waterfront. Baseball season is late April through early October.
Religious travel groups will be astounded at the dazzling variety that San Diego has in store. Continually undergoing restorations, San Diego is highly invested in the past and excited about the future.
San Diego is the ideal destination for faith-based groups who want to incorporate a service element into their meeting. Whether partnering with local congregations or working through an organization like San Diego-based VolunTours.org, the region offers a myriad of opportunities for religious groups to put their principles into practice. We have a dedicated sales director, Nancy Stachnik, assigned to ensure the success of faith-based group meetings by assisting with site selection and destination information as well as access to an online toolkit to aid in attendance promotion, on-site vendor selection and much more.
– Kate Buska, the bureau’s public relations manager